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State wades into PhD equality row

Schleswig-Holstein has become the first state in Germany to request permission for its institutions for applied sciences, Fachhochschulen, to award PhDs, the Spiegel news website reports.

In Germany, only universities can award PhDs. But as a result of the Bologna process to harmonise higher education in Europe, the distinction between universities and Fachhochschulen is lessening. Research activities are playing an increasing role in the efforts of Fachhochschulen to earn equal recognition.

Schleswig-Holstein’s education minister Waltraud Wende told Spiegel Online that the institutions’ applied research is just as valuable as university research. “In the past 20 years, Fachhochschulen have become involved in research in such a way that we have to react,” Wende said. “They must earn the right to award doctor titles themselves.”

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